Invisible Cities

Saturday 15th March saw forty applicants for BA (Hons) Architecture taking part in an intensive studio session. They worked with twelve student tutors from second third and fifth years to create fantastic models based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The book is a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan describing the cities the explorer has visited in his travels around the Khan’s empire.

Each group of four applicants was given a fragment of text and, working very quickly, produced 2D representations of the city they imagined. With their student tutor, the group decided on the most promising aspects to bring together to make their 3D representation. They could choose to model the whole city at Lilliputian scale or to model a representative fragment of the city at close to full scale.

The three-hour project engaged us in multi-disciplinary teamwork of the kind that we can expect all designers to experience in contemporary practice. The project also tested ingenuity in spotting the potential in materials and adapting proposals to accommodate evolving ideas generated by the group.

This project demonstrated that a great deal can be achieved in a short time by imaginative people exploring architecture in a creative environment. The buzz and the energy generated and the beautiful work produced made this a great experience for everyone involved. We can’t wait to start work for real with this group of applicants as the core of our first year in September 2014.